Kittens are the quintessential examples of what it means to be playful.

With three kittens in my house, I have been reminded lately of the importance of play.

(Yeah, those foster kittens I wrote about a couple months ago have become permanent members of the household…)

A kitten’s daily schedule involves pretty much equal portions of eating, sleeping, snuggling, and playing.

While my kittens have an impressive collection of tiny soccer balls, catnip-filled objects, and faux mice on strings, they rarely need any special equipment to play. I have watched them spend hours chasing a price tag from a t-shirt, and their all-time favorite objects of amusement are each other’s tails…or their own.

They also don’t need any invitation to play, but turn to it with spontaneity and abandon. Baths, meals, and naps can suddenly erupt into wrestling or running or chasing an object that has captured their imagination.

Watching them has reminded me that many of us had this same outlook on the world when we were small, until adulthood made us more serious and focused.

But I would argue that play is as important to adults as it is to kittens and children, and it should be a vital element of our lives as well.

Play gives us opportunities for curiosity and discovery. It allows us to interact with others. It allows us to channel energy in healthy ways. And play gives us opportunities to re-create our view of the world and of ourselves.

Youth with troubled childhoods have often missed these opportunities to be carefree. It is difficult to relax and have fun when you are worried about whether someone will hurt you, or where your next meal will come from, or where you will be going to school next week.

This is why recreation is one of the guiding principles of Braid, and this weekend will be all about providing opportunities for our youth to have fun.

Saturday’s field day will be a chance to gather as a group, to move and be silly together. And on Sunday, we will be taking eight Braid youth to summer camp, where they will have a whole week of discovery and re-creation.

Our mentors provide these opportunities for curiosity and recreation in weekly outings with their youth and serve as wonderful models of how to embrace the importance of play!

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